Detroit Symphony and Kid Rock raise $1m in unlikely partnership
29th May 2012
It’s difficult to imagine many circumstances in which a notorious bad boy rocker and a group of classically trained musicians might come into contact, but this month the Detroit Symphony Orchestra shared its stage with Kid Rock.
Not only did this unlikely union of controversial rock star and once-troubled symphony attract a sell-out audience, the benefit concert raised $1m (€790,000) for the DSO.
A crowd of 5,000, from die-hard rock fans to loyal DSO patrons, took their seats in the city’s Fox Theatre on 12 May to hear Kid Rock’s hits set to an orchestra accompaniment, arranged by Rob Mathes.
With Michigan-native Rock decked out in a tux and the orchestra wearing his trade-mark fedora, it was a feel-good – if slightly surreal – evening: certainly the DSO is unused to playing with vocalists whose musical subject matter runs the gamut from drugs to prostitutes to general debauchery.
But the night was a hit and the donated funds will be put to good use across outreach initiatives that will place the orchestra players in schools, churches, retirement communities, nursing homes, hospitals, and community centres across Southeast Michigan.
‘Kid Rock’s extraordinary generosity toward his hometown is truly inspiring,' said DSO music director Leonard Slatkin. ‘All of us at the DSO are grateful for his generosity and we look forward to sharing our music in the future.’
The event was originally conceived by Kid Rock and Rock Ventures founder Dan Gilbert. He said: ‘Not only did we reach our fundraising goal, we also raised awareness of the DSO to a new generation of Detroiters who are critical to the long-term viability of one of Detroit’s cultural gems.’
The fundraising event comes at a critical time for the orchestra; less than two years ago its musicians went on a six-month strike which stretched from October 2010 until April last year. The DSO ended 2011 with a $1.8m deficit, but a renewed focus on engaging with local audiences and community-based donors is getting the ensemble back on track.